Ubaldo could hold key for O's playoff rotation

Righty posted 2.82 ERA over second half of regular season

Ubaldo could hold key for O's playoff rotation

NEW YORK -- A few months ago, saying that right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez would have a big impact on the Orioles' postseason run would've been far-fetched. Now, it's a reality.

Jimenez, removed from the rotation in the first half of the season for the second time in three years, had a sensational second half and is Baltimore's hottest pitcher. While the O's have gotten solid years from Chris Tillman, who will start Tuesday's American League Wild Card Game at 8 p.m. ET on TBS, and Kevin Gausman, Jimenez is the guy who can put the rotation over the top.

That's why Jimenez is the Orioles' X-factor heading into October baseball.

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Jimenez was twice sent to the bullpen this season (like he was in 2014), only this time he took the opportunity and ran with it. After going 5-9 with a 7.38 ERA in the first half of the season, Jimenez posted a 2.82 second-half ERA in 12 games (eight starts).

"That's the main thing for me, I have a lot of faith. It doesn't matter how many times you fall, they say, it's how many times you get up. That's something I've always put in my head," said Jimenez, who has allowed just 19 earned runs over 60 2/3 second-half innings. "I thank God every day for giving me the strength to find a way to fight and recover."

Keys to the Orioles and Jays

Jimenez has not logged at least six innings just once in his past six starts, tossing a complete game on Sept. 5 against Tampa Bay. He ended the regular season having not allowed an earned run in 17 consecutive innings. While he doesn't figure to factor into the Wild Card Game, though, Jimenez will be in the bullpen if needed, should the O's advance.

Jimenez has shown some incredible poise under pressure before and will need to channel that again should Baltimore square off against Texas in the AL Division Series.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.